The Hawaiian island of Kauai can be best described as a paradise. Its beautiful beaches, craggy mountains, plentiful waterfalls and lovely weather all warrant that description. As a kid, my family and I would go there on vacation for those reasons once every few years. Eventually, we decided to do other things for our winter vacations. However, after 10 years we decided to go back to Kauai, and it was interesting to experience the island after all those years.
One of the big things that struck me was how much Kauai was just like I had remembered, and I discovered that my memories of many of the same stores and places from when I last visited — when I was still in elementary school — were accurate. There are also many gorgeous vistas and landscapes that I remembered from previous trips. Interestingly, I hadn’t remembered that those views were of Kauai. Revisiting them made it feel like I was on a journey of discovery through my own mind. This is all to say that the trip was a rather nostalgic one, which helped me better recall the memories from my previous experiences as a kid.
One of the highlights of this nostalgic experience was a kayaking trip along the Wailua River to Secret Falls. I’d done the exact same trip as a kid, but I’ve grown a lot since then. The trip is not difficult at all; via kayak, it’s a mile or two on a river with almost no current, and then there’s a short hike up to the base of the waterfall. What had changed was that I’d gone from barely knowing how to paddle a kayak as a kid to being a college student who has gone kayaking and canoeing multiple times on water much choppier and with stronger currents. This made going up the Wailua River an example of how much I had grown in terms of my skill.
There was also visiting the waterfall itself. As a kid, I could barely enter the pool below the waterfall. As an adult, I could get a lot closer, though I still couldn’t quite get myself to go below it due to the spray and wind blinding me even from 20 feet away. Despite that, the experience of the wind and the water really showed how impressive a waterfall is. Even if it isn’t cascading from a thousand feet up, there’s still quite a bit of incredible power behind it.
Despite the nostalgia, this trip really did give me a new appreciation of Kauai. Before, I never really appreciated how beautiful some of the mountains, canyons and beaches were. It’s a place where you can relax, go see something that’ll take your breath away and eat some shaved ice with sweet syrup drizzled over it all in the same day. I thought as a kid I was looking at it all through rose-colored glasses, but visiting again made me see in a new light just how amazing Kauai really is. The island truly is a paradise and I hope it stays that way for the next 10 years and beyond.